Re: concerns about cohousing
From: Jennifer McCoy (
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 16:08:52 -0600
Tonka004 wrote:
> My wife has been a cohousing enthusiast for a couple of years now.  I am on
> the fence and would appreciate some candid input that might help alleviate (or
> confirm) my concerns.

        My husband and I had similar concerns before we joined our cohousing
community two years ago (with move-in 9 months ago).  We were downsizing
and are two busy professionals with little time for more meetings.  Yet
we wanted playmates and an extended family for our son, and neighbors
that we would actually interact with, in contrast to our previous
neighborhood.  So we took the plunge.

        We've found that privacy is not a problem at all, even in our very
compact urban cohousing site.  In fact, the opposite -- our group has
lamented that we don't have enough time to see each other as much as
we'd like!  Members of the group ebb and flow in their participation
levels, depending on their personal situations and life stresses.

        We solved the space issue by putting some things in storage,  giving
others things to the common house or neighbors, and using our space very
efficiently (it's amazing what the Container Store can do for small
spaces).   We have three people living in 1400 square feet and only feel
a squeeze when we're entertaining.  But creative furniture arrangements
and house design can work wonders.  Most of our households have 1-3
people, or four with small kids sharing a room, so I'm not sure how 4
larger people would fit.

        Our group is still working on your last concern -- meetings. During
construction, meetings were very time-consuming and we weren't too
effective in using our time.  Since move-in, we've been working on a new
meeting structure to contain the meetings and use alternative forms of
information-seeking and consultation.  We still haven't had the training
in facilitation and consensus-making that Rob Sandelin emphasizes, but
hopefully we'll get that soon. 

        Sometimes it feels that we're (the whole group) putting in a lot of
work (finishing our site, meeting, setting up committees, meeting some
more) and getting little back.  But then we'll have a fun work day or
group retreat or dinner and movie at home with our neighbors, and it
becomes worthwhile.  I would simply second Rob Sandelin's comments on
kids in cohousing -- it's been fantastic for our five-year old son.

Jennifer McCoy
Lake Claire Cohousing, Atlanta

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